During the third season of Mad Men Feministing writers will offer some of our thoughts on feminist moments, scenes, and themes in the new episodes in order to start a discussion about these topics in our community. *WARNING: Lots of spoilers follow.
Carla and the Drapers’ church habits.
As someone who grew up in a religious community I identified with processing difference through performance of faith. One of the first ways I became aware of race was through differing religious rituals. In this episode we see Sally starting to engage with racial difference, possibly as a result of Miss Farrell’s class. -Jos
Don and Suzanne Farrell.
This feels much more relationship-y to me than Don’s previous affairs. I think this is partly because the power dynamic is unlike anything we’ve seen with Don before: Don and Suzanne appear to be relative equals in their interactions. I was consistently surprised by the ways Don reacted to Suzanne, going along with her words and actions when the expectation based on his past actions is that he will push away. -Jos
Don: “There is a blue that at least forty five percent of the population sees as the same.”
That ish was deep. I don’t even have anything more to say about that. -Lori
Don: “Every time i hear ‘and then’ there’s another chance for the ladies at home to misunderstand.”
Just in case we forgot: Don thinks the women he sells to are idiots. -Jos
This seems to be Don’s logic towards most people, which is another reason why he doesn’t tell Betty much about his past- he doesn’t think she can really “get him”. -Lori
Kinsey accuses Peggy of being favored because of her gender.
I found this moment so telling; Kinsey can’t grasp the idea that maybe Peggy simply has some great ideas – it just has to be because she “wears a skirt.” Though I did love Kinsey’s awe of Peggy towards the end of the episode when she – yet again! – comes up with some genius copy. -Jessica
Danny, Suzanne’s brother.
Part of why I like Mad Men so much is that, while the show uses its time period to explore prejudice, this can serve as a reminder that discrimination has not gone away (and yes, this is absolutely about audience reaction. I like this show partly because we’re not told exactly what to think and there’s room to engage with topics and issues). People with epilepsy still experience extremely high rates of unemployment. While this was shown in a 1960s context, the reality has not gotten much better. -Jos
Suzanne Farrell: “People are ignorant. They’re scared of things they don’t understand.”
I’m actually tiring a bit of Suzanne as a symbol for the changing times…she’s too hippie dippie perfect in a way that makes her almost not-human. So far I’m seeing her as representative of the time period and of changes Don is going through – but not as a person herself. -Jessica
Kinsey turns up the music and unbuttons his pants.
Okay, am I the only perv that thought he was about to jerk off? -Jessica
I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what was happening. -Jos
“Feeling around” for inspiration, perhaps? No? Too much? -Lori
Achilles: “I’m an American citizen.” Kinsey: “Of course.”
Names and nationality – more ways to process difference. the name “Achilles,” besides being full of humorous and symbolic potential, is also distinctly Greek, or distinctly non-WASP. When this is pointed out Achilles feels the need to state his American citizenship as evidence of not being too much of an “other.” -Jos
Betty opens Don’s drawer.
!!! There was a lot of foreshadowing but I totally did not see this coming, it’s just such a huge step. Betty now has most of the pieces of the puzzle, but I doubt she understands how they fit together. She knows for sure, though, that Don has been living a much bigger lie than she ever could have imagined. I have a really hard time imagining this information doesn’t finally end Betty and Don’s marriage. I mean what do you do with that kind of revelation? How do you even begin to try to process? Just as Don is at the top of his world professionally and feels more trapped than he has before the possibility of losing everything becomes very very real. -Jos
I thought the scene with Betty waiting for Don to come home so she can confront him was just heartbreaking; especially when she realizes he isn’t coming and simply resigns herself to bed. I had the same reaction when she tries to tell Don on the phone that she knows, but instead says in a small voice that she doesn’t feel well. Betty is so close to breaking out of herself…I just really want her to start screaming! -Jessica
Don: “I hate when that happens.”
Don can be an incredibly awful person, so it was nice to have a little reminder of his humanity. When it comes to the creative process Don can actually be empathetic! He’s still an ass though. -Jos
Sally: “Their driver is Chinese.”
Again, Sally is starting to engage with race. Her matter-of-fact statement is a reaction to someone who is outside her everyday experience, as she interacts almost exclusively with white people and black people in service industry roles. -Jos